Entropy, that unpleasant byproduct of consumerism, has been a subject of reality TV almost since that genre’s genesis. From “Clean House” to “Hoarders: Buried Alive,” we’ve seen how pathological our relationship to stuff can be, and how powerless so many of us are to dig out from under it all. The home purge show is now as rigorously structured as the hero’s journey or a Petrarchan sonnet. In it we see the act of decluttering as a quest, and the tidied home as a proxy for our reborn selves.
It’s a form wonderfully suited to the animistic methods of Marie Kondo, the Japanese tidying guru who taught the world to kiss its socks goodbye with a novel organizing principle: If your belongings don’t spark joy, thank them for their service and show them the door.